Monday, November 23, 2009

it's that time

photo by Hannah Davidson

When I see chestnuts in the market, I know that it is definitely fall and the holidays are fast approaching. These lovely rich leathery brown beauties are the quintessential holiday treat. They conjure up an image of a roaring log fire on a cold frosty day and have been immortalized in a holiday song.

But admit it, most of you: You've never eaten a freshly roasted chestnut.

These meaty, slightly sweet nuts are wonderful in sweet or savory dishes. Chestnuts are a natural for poultry stuffing. They also can be made into cream of chestnut soup, chestnut bread or chestnut pasta; Roasted, boiled, braised or pureed with meat stock; or stir-fried. Chefs prefer to team them with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, onions, carrots or sweet potatoes.

Gourmets enjoy sweet confections such as maroons glaces (chestnuts that have been preserved in a sweet syrup), chestnut puree, chestnut cream, quiches, chestnut torte and chestnut ice cream. Of course, they can be roasted in a fireplace popcorn basket or special chestnut roaster.

When buying fresh chestnuts for roasting, choose those that are firm and heavy for their size, with smooth, glossy shells. Chestnuts are highly perishable. To keep them fresh, store them in a ventilated plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator or freeze them for later use.
The easiest way to roast chestnuts is to roast them in an oven. Rinse the chestnuts, then lay them on a towel and pat dry.

Using a strong, sharp paring knife to cut an “X” in the flat size of the chestnut shells. This prevents them from bursting, allows the steam to escape and makes peeling easier.

Place the prepared chestnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Roast at 375° for about 20 minutes. The sliced part of the shells will curl back.

Remove the chestnuts from the oven and place them in a towel-lined bowl. Wrap the towel over top to cover and keep them tightly covered for 5-10 minutes before removing the shells. Remove the shells while still hot, but cool enough to handle.

Starting at the slit, pull the shell away from the nutmeat. The inside skin will peel away from the chestnut along with the outer shell. If the inner skins do not come off easily, the chestnut is either undercooked or overcooked.

The best way to serve these is while they are still warm, either plain or dipped in melted butter with a sprinkling of salt or even cinnamon sugar would be yummy.



  1. mom! your blog is awesome!! i spent the last twenty minutes reading through your november postings in class.

    so proud! i showed some of my friends too haha..... my friend Diandra thinks youre pretty cool and likes your pictures :)

    oh and my favorite picture is def the brusselsprout stalk.

    talk to you soon!

  2. thanks buddy..yes, i liked the brussels sprouts too. although since they make dad gag i couldn't cook them up. :)